Renowned Voyaging Canoe Embarks on Its Greatest Journey Yet

Hokule'a, a traditional Hawaiian voyaging canoe, docked in Honolulu at sunset
Hokule’a, a traditional Hawaiian voyaging canoe, docked in Honolulu at sunset
Courtesy of Polynesian Voyaging Society
Courtesy of Polynesian Voyaging Society

This week, the Polynesian Voyaging Society (PVS) and its voyaging canoe, Hōkūle‘a, will set sail for its grandest voyage to date – a four year journey around the world. Just like the voyages before this one, the crew of Hōkūle‘a will stay true to the traditional Polynesian way of voyaging by using only their natural surroundings to guide their way.

That’s right…no GPS, no sextant, no compass, not even a chart on paper!  Like their voyaging ancestors before them, the master navigators on this voyage will need only the stars, the clouds, the winds, the waves, the birds, and a deep connection with the ocean.

The name of this specific voyage is Mālama Honua, a Hawaiian term that reflects the core value of the voyage: “Caring for Island Earth”.  In this vein, the vision of Mālama Honua is to:

– build awareness of our society’s current path towards an increasingly unsustainable future

– create an appreciation for the world’s oceans

– develop a network of passionate individuals and groups who will serve as change-makers for the betterment of Earth’s future

On board the Hōkūle'a during a practice sail
On board the Hōkūle’a during a practice sail (Photo by Daniel Lin)

For the past two years, I have been involved with different aspects of PVS, from being a member of the education leadership group, to auditing a college-level course on Hawaiian navigation and weather, to helping PVS leadership make connections with communities across the Pacific.  I was even fortunate enough to participate in a few practice sails aboard the Hōkūle‘a in preparation for the worldwide voyage.

However, the bulk of my time at PVS was spent doing dry dock work on the canoes to ensure their readiness for the next four years and many more to come.  As the next chapter unfolds and the voyage gets under way, I hope to continue my engagement with PVS through a variety of ways and document those experiences here in the Explorers Journal.

All in all, the stakes are high, and the risk is great.  The scope of this voyage and its many layers of complexity are so big that few people, if any, can fully wrap their minds around it.  Yet despite all this, the impact that this voyage will have at the community level and its potential to be a catalyst for positive change at the international level make this trip well worth the effort.

And so we sail on…because we can

…and because we must.


More information about PVS and the Worldwide Voyage:

Learn More:

Pitcairn Islands Expedition: Ancient Navigators and the Modern World
Pitcairn Islands Expedition: Remnants of a Lost Civilization

Changing Planet


Meet the Author
A photographer and National Geographic Young Explorer, Dan has spent his career trying to better understand the nexus between people in remote regions of the Asia/Pacific and their rapidly changing environment. Dan is a regular contributor to National Geographic, the Associated Press, and the Guardian. He believes firmly in the power of visual storytelling as a vessel for advocacy and awareness, which helps to better inform policy makers. In 2016, Dan started the Pacific Storytellers Cooperative seeking to empower the next generation of storytellers from the Pacific Islands. Additionally, Dan is a crewmember for the Polynesian Voyaging Society, a Fellow of The Explorers Club, and a member of the IUCN Specialist Group on Cultural and Spiritual Values of Protected Areas. He received his Masters Degree from Harvard University